Caltrain expected to declare fiscal emergency

February 3, 2011 8:33:38 PM PST
Caltrain's board of directors Thursday laid the groundwork to declare a fiscal state of emergency and to make severe cuts to service. Caltrain has a projected $30 million dollar budget shortfall and no dedicated revenue stream.

"The worst is pretty draconian cuts in service and confining service to just commute hours and probably half the trains we have right now; weekend days might not be possible," Caltrain CEO Mike Scanlon said.

Several speakers offered their support for Caltrain service and urged the board to dig deep to find some short terms solutions to close the budget gap and make a commitment to find some long term permanent source of funding.

"We've thrown out some ideas, hey maybe the Giants or Sharks could throw a benefit game for Caltrain but the bottom line is that we need to invest in our public transit," Friends of Caltrain spokesperson Margaret Okuzumi said.

Proposed cuts include reducing weekday trains from 86 to 48 to run only during commute hours. Another proposed cut includes suspending weekday service altogether at up to seven stations and suspending all service south of San Jose Diridon station.

Jeff Carter has been riding Caltrain since 1977 and says he depends on it five days a week to get from Burlingame to his job in San Francisco.

"That's my lifeline because I don't drive and Caltrain is the only way I have to get to and from work," Carter said.

The board of directors scheduled public hearings for March 3 that could declare a state of fiscal emergency and determine service cuts. There will be a number of community meetings later this month to gather more input on possible solutions.